Tag Archives: Lee Lewis


“I’ve loved to put people in the same room who are obliged to be together, but shouldn’t be together and don’t want to be together”, wrote David Williamson in his program notes for ‘FAMILY VALUES’, adding, “Humans being humans, this inevitably results in drama and comedy.”

This has been Williamson’s recipe for success over 50 years as a playwright, ‘FAMILY VALUES’ being one of his most enjoyable.  This play, Williamson says, will be his last, along with, ‘Crunch Time’, which will play at the Ensemble Theatre in February.

Compliant and conservative retired judge, Roger (Andrew McFarlane), is turning 70.  He and wife Sue (Belinda Giblin), have decided to throw a party and invite immediate family members.  Roger grapples with his party balloons blowing and tying them up in nervous anticipation of the chaos about to unfold.  All he wants is to reminisce. Sue keeps him in line, totally in control. She has spent time as a social worker, thus experiencing a very different view of the world than her husband.  A more empathetic one. Continue reading FAMILY VALUES @ THE STABLES THEATRE


Undoubtedly, the worst thing that could happen to any parent is to have their 4 year-old-child kidnapped from their bed during the night.

Hilary Bell’s play ‘SPLINTER’ begins with a happy ending, the return by the police of their now five-year-old daughter, Laura, after a nine month disappearance.  They are understandably over-joyed. The kind of elation that is so extreme they seem fragile, over-compensating and emotionally lost.

As they try to re-connect with Laura, not knowing what has happened to her or where she’s been, they both feel they should take her to their happiest place, their holiday beach house.

Unlike the first production of ‘SPLINTER’ at the Sydney Theatre Co. in 2012, where Laura was a puppet, the second production at the Griffin, directed by Lee Lewis, has an invisible Laura, who’s presence is mimed by her mother (Lucy Bell) and father (Simon Gleeson) – known in the program notes as simply ‘woman’ and ‘man’.  Imagining Laura is harder work for the actors and audience, but adds an interesting dynamic which has us focusing more on her parents and their anxiety. Continue reading SPLINTER : A TENSE DRAMA @ THE STABLES



On  a prima facie level,  a legal term meaning on the face of it, and on a deep level, this is an outstanding production.

This is a one woman play written by the prolific Australian playwright Suzie Miller and has been directed by the Griffin Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Lee Lewis.

The play tells the story of barristerTessa, who spends her time defending her clients  until she has her own brush with the law when she is raped by a work colleague .

The journey she goes through is a harrowing one, most of all the time when she undergoes rigorous cross examination in the witness box.

Miller’s play shows us how hard it is for women who have been sexually violated to go through the court process and is a plea for better legal processes to be put in place so that women have a better and less taxing chance of getting justice.

Lee Lewis’ direction is superb. It is a very tight.  Everything is pared back making sure that everything is focused on the performer. Renee Mulder’s  set is compact and  very to the point. There is a black platform  centre stage and on the platform,, sitting in the centre,  is an office chair.

Sheridan Harbridge’s performance is very powerful. Harbridge was on stage for 100 minutes and never faltered. She deserved the standing ovation she received.  So did Lee Lewis, who was tearing up, and Suzie Miller who came on stage to join Harbridge.

The play ends on a very striking, emphatic note beautifully lit by lighting man Trent Suidgeest.

Recommended, PRIMA FACIE is playing the Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross un the 22nd June, 2019.



Rehearsal photos: Brett Boardman

Winner of the Judges’ Award in the prestigious Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting (UK), Australian playwright Kendall Feaver’s THE ALMIGHTY SOMETIMES is  a profound and unflinching look at mental health and the medication of children.

Following a critically-acclaimed UK season, Lee Lewis directs Hannah Waterman, Brenna Harding, Shiv Palekar and the legendary Penny Cook in the Australian premiere of this honest take on the difficult choices you make in your child’s best interests, and what happens when you no longer have a say. Continue reading THE ALMIGHTY SOMETIMES: COMING SOON TO GRIFFIN


Production images: Brett Boardman

“There might even be some in the audience.”  A Climate Denier.  Or me, with concerns about guns on stage and sceptical that a play pulled from production by immense pressure in 2014 might suffer from its own reputation.  But pressure has its uses.  It forms diamonds in the mantle and spits them up by force.  Compression also provides a suitable pressure cooker to take old art and make it new.  This is KILL CLIMATE DENIERS Mark 2018.  A new work forged from the never seen to arrive brilliant and faceted on the Griffin stage. Continue reading KILL CLIMATE DENIERS:UNDENIABLY BRILLIANT


From the rehearsal room of DARLINGHURST NIGHTS.
Photo: Brett Boardman

DARLINGHURST NIGHTS   is a classic Australian musical which takes place on the streets around the Hayes Theatre itself, and the Hayes celebrates the show’s 30th anniversary with a new production from Helpmann Award-winning director Lee Lewis (The Bleeding Tree). Continue reading DARLINGHURST NIGHTS NOW ON AT THE HAYES


Featured photo – Griffin Award 2017 winner David Finnigan. Photo by Javier Vela. Inset photos by Brett Boardman.

In promoting and encouraging new, emerging Australian playwrights, the Griffin Theatre Company is continuing to evolve and grow.

Under the Artistic Direction of Lee Lewis, Griffin has become an audience favourite, as evidenced last Sunday by a full house of writers, fellow actors and loyal supporters at the annual 2017 Griffin Award.

The Griffin Award is now in its twentieth year and recognises an ‘outstanding play or performance text that displays an authentic, inventive and contemporary Australian voice.’

The winner received a $10,000 prize and the runners-up $1,000. Of the 95 entries this year, only 5 were shortlisted.

The winner was David Finnigan for Kill Climate Deniers, a sharp and satirical look at politics, the two-party system coming face to face with a global-scale crisis unfolding over decades.

The other 4 shortlisted plays this year were: Kit Brookman for The Bees Are All Dead, Ang Collins for Blueberry Play, Emme Hoy for Extinction of the Learned Response and Brooke Robinson for Good Cook. Friendly. Clean. 

The play readings were stimulating, clever and funny and all refreshingly different. It would be good to see these plays, in their entirety, on stage some time soon.

If you are a playwright and wish to be notified when applications for 2018 open, go to the Griffin website, Griffin Award, and fill out a form. For other queries, email: submissions@griffintheatre.com.au


The latest scintillating panel in the exciting series of Culture Club talks was entitled HI-TECH STORIES . Chaired by Fenella Kernebone it considered how the use of sensors, lasers, virtual reality, online content, digital-real-time-audience-interaction and for example text messages have now been included and spiced up special effects and storylines for decades – artists and audiences continue to fervently embrace new technologies as fast as we can fund them. Lee Lewis (Griffin Theatre) TL Uglow (Google Creative Lab) and Gideon Obarzanek (ex Chunky Move) discussed the latest developments in creative technology in the theatrical world, its outcomes and effects ,particularly in theatre and dance.

One of the country’s leading directors, Lee Lewis is currently Artistic Director of the Griffin Theatre Company. Her production credits include working with companies Griffin, Bell Shakespeare, Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir, ATYP and Sydney Festival.

TL Uglow , a contemporary writer and speaker on innovation and digital futures, leads part of Google’s Creative Lab specialising in work with cultural organisations, artists, writers, and producers. TL creates experiments using digital technology at the boundaries of traditional cultural practice – across theatre, literature, history, cinema, music, science and the circus.

Gideon Obarzanek is a director and choreographer, and is Artistic Associate with the Melbourne Festival, Chair of the Melbourne Fringe Festival and board member of Critical Path – Choreographic Research Centre based in Sydney. Gideon founded dance company Chunky Move in 1995 and was CEO until 2012.

Panel Chairperson Fenella Kernebone is the newly appointed Head of Curation for TedX Sydney and a radio and television presenter. She presents By Design on Radio National and The Sound Lab on Triple J.”

How do audiences today embrace the use of technology? How do the panel members embrace technology? Kernebone asked these and other burning questions and began with Where are we now with art and technology?

Lewis replied that she was caught between fear and hope .Uglow replied by saying it could all possibly be about the budget and funding and how culture has become institutionalised. Obarzanek replied by referring back to his work in the 1990’s  and how now the issue is ‘ liveness’ and how people want to digitally interact and be in the same place as the performance. He continued by saying that technology is always changing and always has a role in performance – now it has become more seamless.

The next issue that was raised was – if the tecnology doesn’t work do you keep going ? and how now so much art depends on the use of technology. There was then talk of fashioning and enhancing the audience experience and how nowadays performances can be shared and viewed around the world.

Obarzanek talked about his work with Chunky Move and the use of technology as well as film in performance and asked when using technology (as in his Glow for example) do you embody the performance as a performer, a character or as a kinetic image?

He also looked at the history of dance and storytelling , mentioning in particular Loie Fuller and Alwin Nikolais,  the use of projections and for Obarzanek’s Glow how light and image became part of the choreography.

He became fascinated with Reuben Margolin’s work with ‘string sculptures’ and this led to the work Connected  with Chunky Move. Obarzanek said you need to engage the audience and help them appreciate what is out there .He then talked about working with large groups of people ( the choirs in his Assembly) who were not used to moving and how he used digital items when working with Sydney Dance and how he has used technology constantly.

Kernebone then asked how has technology shaped how the way that they work?

Lewis replied that she wants to develop a more intimate relationship with her audience, that you have to care about your audience.

Uglow talked about one of her latest projects featuring a network between phone and computers with writers talking about projects and technology in the real world.

Obarzanek spoke about the changes in technology and that now you can shift and play with all sorts of various apps, and how nowadays the division between audience and performer, between professional and amateur and those who are untrained, is quite blurred.

Uglow raised the issue of in today’s world of  the constant use of mobiles, the framing of the object in the theatre, non linear construction of narrative and ownership of apps, licences and so on.

Lewis replied that yes there is now much more pressure on companies and performers to be much much better and how audiences are now more visually aware and how with technology they can provide feedback and that companies have to listen.

Lewis mentioned she would love an app or something that could one day come along and change the body, change the costume in performance – she wants the magic of theatre, of seeming to be able to teleport someone on stage, and instant scene changes…

Obarzanek talked about his collaborations with scientists, of images and light, his trip to Java and Lewis talked about live streaming of theatrical performances.

In summing up and answer to audience questions Lewis remarked that her work with Uglow has made her realise how traditional the theatrical form is and spoke about cultural traditions and preservation of the art form and the necessity for working across artforms and genres.

We then ran out of time .Kernebone thanked the panel and the session closed.

Running time – 75 mins ( roughly )
Hi-Tech stories as part of the Culture Club talks series was presented at the Utzon room of the Sydney Opera House 4 October



Replay 2

Main image: Anthony Gooley as Peter, Jack Finsterer as Michael and Alfie Gledhill as John. Above (l to r) Anthony Gooley as Peter and Jack Finsterer as Michael.

We all know the sensation of wanting to change the past, to be able to return and insert that perfect comment or choose to act differently with the benefit of hindsight.

The world premiere of Phillip Kavanagh’s slick and evocative REPLAY by the Griffin Theatre Company explores and expands upon the vulnerabilities surrounding such reflection. Set in a grieving family environment between male siblings it is a smorgasbord of expression, identity, truth and yearning to re-create what might have been. Continue reading REPLAY @ GRIFFIN THEATRE

The Bleeding Tree @ The SBW Stables Theatre

Inset pic- Shari Sebbens, Airlie Dodds and Paula Arundell. Featured pic- Paula Arundell. Production pics by Brett Boardman
Inset pic- Shari Sebbens, Airlie Dodds and Paula Arundell. Featured pic- Paula Arundell. Production pics by Brett Boardman

In a dirt-dry town in rural Australia, a shot shatters the still night. A mother and her two daughters have just slain the man of the house with a bullet to the neck. Their dilemma, how do they dispose of the body?!

This is the set up to Melbourne playwright Angus Cerini’s play THE BLEEDING TREE, the 2014 Griffin Award winner, now given its Australian production directed by current Griffin Artistic Director Lee Lewis and starring Paula Arundell as the mother and Shari Sebbens and Airlie Dodds as her two daughters.

Continue reading The Bleeding Tree @ The SBW Stables Theatre

Steve Rogers takes out the inaugural Lysicrates Prize

Inset pic- Photo 6861 Premier Mike Baird announces Steve Rogers as the winner of the first Lysicrates Prize in front of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. Featured pic- In front of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney after Premier Mike Baird’s announcement:-Lee Lewis, Artistic Director Griffin Theatre Company, Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet, Environment Minister Rob Stokes, Patricia Azarias, Kim Ellis, Executive Director, Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands, John Azarias

On Friday, 30th January 2015,  Steve Rodgers was awarded the inaugural Lysicrates Prize, receiving a full $12,500 Griffin Theatre Company commission, as voted by audience at Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.  The Lysicrates Prize was founded by Patricia and John Azarias, in conjunction with Griffin Theatre Company and the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. Mike Baird – Premier NSW, Luke Foley – NSW Opposition Leader, and Industry Leaders were amongst the audience.

Steve Rodgers was amongst three finalists who were shortlisted to submit the first act of a new play. The two runners-up Justin Fleming and Lally Katz each received a $1,000 cash prize. This innovative new Australian playwriting competition was inspired by the imminent restoration of an historic monument in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden: The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates.

Continue reading Steve Rogers takes out the inaugural Lysicrates Prize

MASQUERADE @ the Drama Theatre

“Fifty is my first, Nothing is my second, Five just makes my third, My fourth a vowel is reckoned.”

Bring your children to Sydney Opera House to see this world  premiere production delivered in a manner that is well beyond the world of the armchair treasure hunt, with its beautiful illustrations, provided by the book.

Local playwright Kate Mulvany has lovingly adapted British author Kit Williams’ children’s book, first published in January, 1987.

Jack Hare takes us all on a fast-paced 120 minute journey, departing from his mistress, The Moon and then setting out on a mission to deliver both her message of love (a deep and meaningful riddle) and her jeweled gift, to her male paramour, The Sun. Continue reading MASQUERADE @ the Drama Theatre


Steve Rodgers and Andrea Gibbs in Declan Greene's EIGHT GIGABYTES OF HARDCORE PORNOGRAPHY
Steve Rodgers and Andrea Gibbs play two anonymous troubled souls in Greene’s play

This frank photo by Brett Boardman, one of Sydney’s leading stage photographers, of Steven Rodgers and Andrea Gibbs, gets to the heart, the essence, of the Griffin Theatre’s current production, Declan Greene’s, EIGHT GIGABYTES OF HARDCORE PORNOGRAPHY, far more than the show’s controversial, attention grabbing title.

Greene’s play is about the struggles, and intersecting journeys of two very ordinary, what could be more ordinary then anonymous, people. As Boardman’s photo shows- with the their slumped, dejected expressions, their zest for life is draining away. It is like neither of them have seen the sunshine for a  long time. Greene’s play charts the journeys of these two people as they try to step into some sunshine, companionship and love.


The Bull, The Moon And The Coronet Of Stars

Matt Zeremes and Silvia Colloca. Pic Brett Boardman

The Stables Theatre’s triangular stage with its steeply raked and intimate audience space is the perfect vehicle for Van Badham’s latest play THE BULL, THE MOON AND THE CORONET OF STARS.

The unique style of this play sees the two actors move smoothly between narrative to the audience and dialogue with each other – a method that takes some adjusting to, but ultimately works very well.

Inspired by the mythological Greek characters of Ariadne, Theseus and Dionysis, this is the love story of Marion (Silvia Colloca) and the two men in her life, Michael and Mark (both played by Matt Zeremes). “The Greeks provided the framework for bold engagement with social catastrophe, but also for something as intricate and domestic as how a young woman learns to survive a broken heart”, says Badham.

Set loosely in modern day Australia, Marion – a visual artist – meets the married Michael – a publications officer – in the museum where they work and we are privy to their lustful thoughts through the narrative. Alone together, guarding the museum at night, where the rumour of a mysterious animal spirit lurks, they find themselves in a blackout. (This is the first time I’ve experienced a total blackout in a theatre and it was extremely atmospheric and made this scene triumphant). The animal becomes a symbol of their uncontrollable lust and the sexual tension is dynamic.

Marion is dumped by Michael, loses her boyfriend and is haunted by adultery-remorse and lost love. She cuts her hair off, takes a vow of celibacy and retreats to, not a nunnery, but a resort island where she teaches art to septuagenarian ladies.

Sommelier and disc jockey by night, Mark, sets the resort and the ladies on fire, all but Marion. Some scenes here are somewhat over graphic, especially with Mark’s references to sexual contact with 70 plus women, but it is overall very well written.

The play would not have worked as well without the brilliant performances of Silvia Colloca and Matt Zeremes. They played off each other with precision and warmed the audience with their playful subtext/narrative. Director Lee Lewis must be congratulated for her energetic and finely tuned input. I liked the way we didn’t need to see haircuts and extensive costume changes, focusing the audience on the storyline.

The set design by Anne Tregloan was very effective. It seemed at first odd to see just portable square and rectangular wooden frames on stage, but as they were moved around to adapt to different imaginary settings so gracefully, they became very functional. Likewise the lighting by Verity Hampson and sound by Steve Francis were great.

Van Badham’s play is imaginative and rich with sensuous and poetic language. Her style is bold and fresh.

THE BULL, THE MOON AND THE CORONET OF STARS opened at the SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross on Wednesday 8th May and runs until Saturday 8th June, 2013. The show will then tour to The Butter Factory Theatre in Wodonga, Victoria where it will play between the 13th and 22nd of June, 2013.

(c) Bronwyn Fullerton

12th May, 2013